The Twin Valley - Neal Prairie is located approximately three miles southwest of Twin Valley Minnesota or 1 mile west of Syre Minnesota in Norman County. Norman County is located along the Minnesota - North Dakota Border. This prairie area is located in the Red River Valley ECS Section. This prairie area is defined as a core area in the Minnesota Prairie Plan.
The Twin Valley - Neal Prairie IBA includes private land, two Scientific and Natural Areas (SNA's) and several Wildlife Management Areas (WMA's).
The habitat consists of mesic, wet and dry prairies as well as marsh communities located within an area consisting primarily of agriculture. The upland areas located on the SNA's consist of big bluestem and prairie cord grass along with an assortment of prairie forbs and wildflowers including lead plant, asters, purple prairie clover, needle and thread grass and painted cup. The poorer drained soils and low lying areas consist of wet prairies and shallow marshes with sedges, cattails and great bulrush being the dominant plant species.
The Twin Valley - Neal Prairie is an important site for prairie-chickens as several booming grounds are found here.
Two Prairie Chicken observation blinds are available for public during the spring breeding season. They can be reserved by contacting the Twin Valley Heritage Center at (218) 584-5658.
Approximately 106 species of birds have been documented on the two Scientific and Natural Areas located within the boundaries of the Twin Valley - Neal Prairie IBA.
Seventeen listed species have been documented on the Twin Valley - Neal Prairie IBA. This includes birds, mammals, plants and invertebrates. The 4 listed bird species are:
Henslow's Sparrow, Wilson's Phalarope, Marbled Godwit and
Twin Valley - Neal Prairie IBA also supports rare, threatened and unique habitat assemblages with several remaining prairie tracts within the IBA including both wet prairie and mesic prairie types. Unique plant life such as western prairie fringed orchid, small white lady's slipper, blanket flower and other prairie forbs and flowers exist on these native parcels, as well as a myriad of butterflies.
Significant changes to the agricultural regions of the state could be on the horizon with the recent interest in biofuels. The need for a more diverse energy source at a local level could cause changes in grassland habitats and agricultural practices. These changes could have a negative impact on species trying to survive on prairie tracts left remaining in northwestern Minnesota.
Recent interest in wind power has resulted in the proliferating wind farms that alter the landscape with large turbines designed to generate alternative energy sources. The large towers can cause bird collisions as well as displace nesting birds. With the construction of the towers other changes can occur such as additional power lines and wires for moving the electricity. All can have impacts on our prairie bird species as well as plants and other animal species. Several wind farms have been developed, and more are in the planning stages for Agassiz beach ridge locations.
The potential exists for gravel mining in or near the Twin Valley - Neal WMA Prairie. Activities associated with mining generally have negative impacts on both the natural landscape and species associated with the process.
Many types of human activities can cause the propagation of invasive or non-native plants. As landscapes get managed more intensely, non-native intrusions are becoming more common. Land managers should attempt to keep new invasive species from their properties as well as monitor their properties for unwanted species already present.